The Pretenders on Nautilus Half-Speed – Ouch!

More from The Pretenders

Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing reviewed and found wanting.

Completely lifeless. This pressing takes all the rock out of rock and roll.

A ridiculous joke played on a far-too-credulous audiophile public.  

The top quality audiophile sound of the best import pressings comes courtesy of these guys:

Top Producers – Chris Thomas

Top Engineers – Bill Price

Top Engineers – Steve Nye

If you want to know just how good the album can sound, we make it easy to find out. Just order one of our famous Hot Stamper pressings.

Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees

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  • With insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish, this copy will be very hard to beat — exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • It’s the impossibly rare copy that’s this lively, solid and rich… drop the needle on the title track and you’ll see what we mean
  • “Arguably the first consistently strong album Fleetwood Mac ever recorded [not true, Kiln House is] … 1972’s Bare Trees is also the album where the band finally defines its post-blues musical personality.”

This period of Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House (1970) through Mystery to Me (1973) — both are albums I would put at the top of my list to take to my Desert Island — has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is a positive THRILL to hear it sound so good!

Until not that many years ago we simply were not able to successfully shootout Bare Trees, Fleetwood Mac’s wonderful album from 1972. The pressings we were playing just didn’t sound very much like Hot Stampers to us. British, German, Japanese, domestic originals, domestic reissues; all of them left much too much to be desired.

Thankfully we can tell you that the best copies sound a whole lot better now than they did then. (more…)

Cowboy Junkies – Whites Off Earth Now!!

More Cowboy Junkies

More Debut Albums of Interest

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s debut album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as an open and spacious soundfield
  • “Whites Off Earth Now!! establishes the spare country blues sound that took the band to international fame with their next album.” – Wikipedia
  • “… it’s fascinating to hear their signature country-on-valium sound develop. Margo Timmins sings beautifully.”

This vintage Latent Recordings pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

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  • Insanely good CCR sound, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • An essential, Must Own for every Classic Rock collection, this LP includes some of the band’s biggest hits: Green River and Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Wrote a Song for Everyone and plenty more
  • 5 stars “If anything, CCR’s third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country. One of the differences between the two albums is that Green River is tighter, with none of the five-minute-plus jams that filled out both their debut and Bayou Country, but the true key to its success is a peak in John Fogerty’s creativity.”

This copy is bigger, livelier, richer, more spacious, more relaxed and just plain more musically involving than every other pressing we played in our recent shootout. (more…)

Donald Byrd – Fancy Free

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  • Fancy Free makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom
  • The overall sound here is Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for capturing the jazz energy and performance space of this superbly sympathetic ensemble
  • “1969’s Fancy Free marked the beginning of Donald Byrd’s move away from hard bop, staking out fusion-flavored territory… the rare Donald Byrd album that holds appeal for rare-groove fanatics and traditionalists alike.”

If you’re ready to take a mindblowing jazz fusion trip with sonics to match, you should definitely check this one out. (more…)

Marty Robbins – More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

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More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

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  • Stunning sound throughout for this original Columbia Six-Eye stereo LP; Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • Transparency and Tubey Magic are critical to the sound of the arrangements and you will find both are abundant here  
  • Very quiet for an early Columbia Six-Eye pressing – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “Robbins’ originals are authored in an authentically vintage style, interspersed with public domain titles that are the real article…” – All Music

Two superb sides, with the kind of ’60s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems clear to us that no one can remaster a recording like this nowadays, if our direct experience with more than hundred such albums counts as evidence.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Marty Robbins himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room, along with the other other musicians playing on the sessions of course. (more…)

Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears 3

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  • A STUNNING sounding copy and the first to hit the site in over 7 years! Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides here have the BIG JAZZ-ROCK sound — stretching from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, with energy and power that only a handful of albums can begin to compete with
  • This copy shows you just how good Roy Halee’s engineering used to be, comparable to his brilliant work on BS&T’s previous album, the one we extol to this day as (probably) the best sounding rock record ever made
  • David Clayton-Thomas remained an enthusiastic blues shouter, and the band still managed to put together lively arrangements, especially on the Top 40 hits “Hi-De-Ho” and “Lucretia Mac Evil”… BS&T 3 was another chart-topping gold hit.” – All Music

An amazing sounding copy! The brass is rich, solid, and present, with correct timbre for every instrument from the bass trombone all the way up the scale to piccolo trumpet. This is exactly the sound we were looking for and couldn’t find — until we played this copy. No other side one could touch it. It’s BIG down low, bigger than any other copy by far. The vocals are clear and present. The huge 30+ member chorus on the first track works on this copy; it doesn’t most of the time. It obviously presents a real challenge to any engineer, but Halee is up to it, judging solely by the sound on this very copy. Mastering and pressing issues end up making that chorus sound small, thin and opaque most of the time.

Lucretia MacEvil, a minor hit, has more compression than the rest of the side, to make it more radio-friendly of course, but here it holds up much better than on most copies. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Softly, As I Leave You

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  • With two insanely good sides, each with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it, this early stereo pressing was one of the best copies we played in our shootout
  • Big, rich and natural, the newer material for this album was recorded in 1964, with Sinatra’s voice in very fine form
  • This is one of the few Sinatra records where the second label pressings can still sound quite good – that is rare in our experience
  • “The highlight of the record was the hit title song, which featured a subdued but forceful and steady backbeat. The rhythm itself was indicative of Sinatra’s effort to accept the new popular music.”

(more…)

The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Our Rare Four Plus Grade

See all of our Rimsky-Korsakov albums in stock

More entries in our Well Recorded Classical Albums – The Core Collection

Well Recorded Classical Albums from The Core Collection available on our site

 

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  • This AMAZING side one with the complete Tsar Saltan was so good we gave it our rare 4+ grade
  • We freaked out when we heard this side – it took the sound beyond anything we had ever experienced for the work
  • It’s so rich and real, with huge WHOMP factor down low, as well as clear, uncolored brass and robust lower strings – wow!
  • We figure about one out of a hundred sides earn our Four Plus grade – you can’t get much more rare than that

James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from April of 1959 in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time. More amazing sounding recordings were made there than in any other hall we know of. There is a solidity and richness to the sound beyond all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

(more…)

Jimmy Smith – At Club Baby Grand

More Jimmy Smith

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  • Jimmy’s superb live release from 1956 makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from top to bottom
  • A killer early mono pressing, with a strong bottom end, lovely richness and warmth, real space and separation between the instruments, and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • There is a mark that makes 25 pops, which would be a deal killer if this record were not so rare and so good – it’s literally the first copy we’ve ever found that could be played on an audiophile turntable
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded trio occupies
  • “It’s all Jimmy Smith in full flight, bubbling over with cascading notes and breathless detours, and if his studio work is generally more structured and considered (but only a little more so), this set shows him in what was his natural habitat, astounding an audience in a small club.”

(more…)